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More Brainless Science

In the 21st century, immortality beckons from several directions: cybernetics, artificial intelligence, telomere extension and cell therapy, maybe even an afterlife. But most of humanity’s hope to transcend death revolves around the brain, as the manifestation of our memories and personality. On Pharyngula, PZ Myers considers the merits of new efforts to master the brain,…

Zeroing in on Zika and Microcephaly

On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski reports on a “public health nightmare” in Brazil that threatens to become more common around the world. The culprit is a virus called Zika, known to cause mild infections since 1947 but now “linked to nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly – infants born with abnormally small brains and heads.”…

Bidding Antibiotics Adieu

On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski reports another crack in one of the pillars of modern life—antibiotics. New research in China shows that a family of bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae (which includes E. coli and Salmonella) have acquired a gene that provides resistance to a last-resort antibiotic known as Colistin. These species of bacteria do not…

It was high times for the Rebel Alliance at the end of Return of the Jedi (1983). Across the galaxy, crowds rejoiced at the destruction of the second Death Star and the apparent defeat of Emperor Palpatine. Princess Leia Organa, who two films earlier had seen her home planet exploded for sport, was re-united with a twin…

Healthcare Habits Die Hard

As the U.S. seeks to drive down medical spending, one goal is to eliminate tests and treatments that are ineffective while encouraging price competition among things that work. Passing the buck on to the consumer isn’t enough; on The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski reports that giving patients an incentive to save money on health care…

Et tu, Exxon?

New reporting by Inside Climate News shows that petroleum giant Exxon knew, more than thirty years ago, that burning too much fossil fuel would cause catastrophic climate change. Comparing Exxon’s subsequent emphasis on profits over planetary health to the efforts of Big Tobacco hiding the dangers of cigarettes, PZ Myers writes “the future is going…

…And the Eagle Flies with the Dove

You can almost hear the sound of PZ Myers’ palm hitting his face as “a couple of vegetarian philosophers with no knowledge of biology” urge humanity to end predation worldwide—so that no more zebras have to suffer at the fangs of a lion, and no more mice at the talons of an owl. Their plea…

One Big (Happy) Family

Raising ten children—some biological, others adopted or in foster care—is far from a burden for Sharon Astyk. On the contrary, she says it mandates an artfulness to living, allowing her and her husband to help create something new and greater from the sum of many parts. Sharon writes that the result is “more fascinating, more…

Pluto, King of the Underworlds

New measurements from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft revealed that Pluto, named for the Greco-Roman god once called Hades, is a little more swollen with ice than previously thought, making it the biggest trans-Neptunian object—more voluminous than rival dwarf planet Eris, which is nevertheless more massive. Greg Laden explains why these orbs are not considered full-fledged…

As researchers continue to document the intelligence and emotional acuity of animals, beasts begin to look more like brethren, and food more like friend. On Pharyngula, PZ Myers shares a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that gives chimpanzees used in research the same endangered status as their wild cousins. According to Science, “organizations…